Welcome to high school! Where you will be judged on your appearance. Where your head will be filled with anxiety. Where you will have mental breakdowns because of stress or pressure of not being good enough. Where numbers like your Grade Point Average (GPA), weight, grades, and likes on social media will define you. This, unfortunately, is a very true reality for most teenagers and it’s not their fault. It is society’s fault. Society has changed the views and standards for teenagers. They view us as stupid millennials who don’t know anything. They give us these unrealistic standards for how we should look, what type of body we should have, how smart we should be, how we should act, etc. Then, when we we don’t live up to those ridiculous standards, we are outcasted and judged. We then start to feel as if we are not good enough for others and ourselves. So, we try to eat less, society calls us anorexic. We start to become introverted, society labels us as weird or emo. We start to have depression and/or anxiety, society tells us we are just doing that for attention. This is how today’s society is and it is terrible.
Society’s standards are so messed up. If you’re shy and quiet, you’re emo. If you’re open and expressive, you are just begging for attention. If you’re a virgin by 16, you’re a loser. If you lose your virginity by 16, you’re a whore. If you don’t compliment yourself, you’re begging for compliments. If you do compliment yourself, you’re just full of yourself. If you be yourself, you’re weird. If you’re “normal”, you’re boring. It’s hard to find yourself in a world that is so centered around perfection, when in reality we are all imperfect. Society expects teenagers to act like adults, yet we are treated like kids. And when we actually do have something ‘smart’ to say, we are silenced by the words, “You don’t know anything, you’re just a kid”. We get told that the things we are going through emotionally and/or physically are insignificant because of our age. Just because we are teenagers doesn’t make our problems any different from yours. Many people look at teenagers as kids who don’t know anything. But a lot of us actually have really good things to say. If we just got the chance to speak our mind more often and not be silenced by others, people would realize that.
How Much Society Can Influence Teenagers
There are so many stories of teenagers who have commited suicide because of depression. According to psychcentral.com, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. “Approximately 20% of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Only 30% of depressed teens are being treated for it.” (Borchard, J. T). Now days, there is more stress and pressure for teenagers today than in previous generations and that has to do a lot with how society is now. Now days, we teenagers have social media. While there are a lot of good things about social media, it also had lead to big problems. One of those problems is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is someone bullying someone else over social media. Cyberbullying is using text messaging or social media websites to harass someone by sending and/or posting mean messages or pictures of them. This is usually done anonymously. Cyberbullying, unfortunately, is one of the reasons for young teenage suicides. Another way that society and social media can influence teenagers are social media platforms. Platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are the two major social media sites that influence teenagers the most. The number of likes that a teenager will get after posting a picture or something onto Instagram or Twitter, will define them. Society can also lead teens to depression by giving us unrealistic standards like I mentioned earlier. If we don’t have the perfect body, looks, grades, etc.., we start to feel as if we are not good enough. Society expects us to be perfect, and when we are not, society degrades us and makes us feel ashamed that we are not perfect. This can lead teens to becoming depressed, having anxiety, and/or eating very little or not eating at all because we want to be skinny. As teenagers, we get told that the stuff we go through is not important because of our age. Because of that, a lot of teens suffering with depression feel like they can’t talk to anyone about it because they think that they will get told that they don’t have depression because they are only a teen, and that it’s just a phase because we are so young. Think about how horrible it is for a teenager to be going through depression and for them feel as if they can’t tell anyone how they feel.
What is Depression?
Most people think that depression is just sadness and that people will get over it. As someone who has suffered from depression, I can tell you that, that, is not at all what depression is. Let’s start with the feelings of depression. Yes, it is sadness, but it’s also self-hate, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, isolation, and nothing. Now, you might be asking, how can you feel nothing? Well, it’s the feeling of being numb, emotionless, and empty. You just feel nothing.
A lot of times, you will never know if a teenager is suicidal or depressed. For fear of being judged and chastised, a teenager suffering through depression will try to act normal and say that everything is fine. Although, that is not the only case. “A teenager acting out due to depression or anxiety, sometimes looks no different from everyday teenage drama. Also, because almost every adult experienced some stress and difficulty through their own teenage years, they dismiss it when they see it in other teens, even their children. They will think of it as just a normal part of growing up.” (Burke, C).
Depression is not just a phase or something you can control. Depression is a disease. You can even get it genetically. That was the case for me. Throughout my middle school and high school years, I struggled with ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Because of that, I was bullied harshly for years. I started to become depressed, but I didn’t know I was depressed because, at the time, I didn’t know what depression was. I started to live in the mindset that I was worthless, I was ugly, I was stupid and should be ashamed that I had ADHD, I thought that I was nothing.
Fortunately, I overcame depression because God worked in my life through a daily devotional book my parents bought for me. One day, I decided to read it. I don’t remember what it said exactly, but it said something like, God will always be there for you, even when it seems like no one else is. God loves you and made you for a reason. Since that day, I have taken time to look through every page of that book and have not found the page where it said that. But I know that God had me see those words that day for a reason. That was a few years ago. Now, for the past two years, I have been struggling with depression and anxiety again. Only this time it wasn’t because I was being bullied. After conversations with my biological mom, I learned that depression runs in my family. So all these years I was suffering from depression, it likely was because I had inherited that genetically.
When you have major depression, it is literally a battle every single day. You either win or die trying, to put in blunty. For some, it will be a battle every day to not self-harm. For others, it will be a battle to not have a mental breakdown every day. It will be a struggle and you will never be able to be free of it, but the key will be learning how to manage it. Learning how to manage it will be different for every person. Think of it as a dark rain cloud over your head. When you have depression, it’s there pouring down a rain storm over your head. When you learn to manage it, the rain doesn’t feel as strong and overwhelming. Some days it will just be sprinkling, other days it might be light rain. The point is that depression will always be there, even when you think you ‘got rid of it’.
Society now days has gotten so out of hand with unrealistic standards and expectations of how people, especially teens, should be like. Society can lead teens to depression and even suicide because of those standards and expectations it has set. Many teenagers who will suffer with depression and/or anxiety will carry that with them through adulthood. Society basically tells teens that we will never be good enough. We will always be too skinny or too fat, too short, too tall. Too expressive, too shy and quiet, too normal, too weird. Society will never be satisfied with anything we do. This is the society that teenagers have to live with today. The question is, what will we do to end that?
Borchard, J. T. (2018, July 8). Why Are So Many Teens Depressed?. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/why-are-so-many-teens-depressed/
Burke, C. (2017, January 19). 6 Ways Society Is Designed To Screw Teenagers Every Day. Retrieved from http://www.cracked.com/article_24546_6-hidden-ways-world-rigged-against-teens.htm